Business

Online poker and US regulation

With the industry of online gambling rapidly expanding all over the world, much of the attention of the people involved is focused on the United States. This is because, despite increased regulation of Internet gambling in many other large world markets, the United States has yet to regulate and legalize online gaming of this kind, which essentially means that arguably the biggest market in the world is yet to open for gaming companies. However, over the course of 2012 it has become more and more apparent that the United States may soon be taking significant steps toward regulation of at least some forms of online gambling, which would represent a monumental development for the big gaming sites like Party Casino and Party Poker – some of which are preparing even now for what is seen as the eventuality of U.S. regulation.

Party Poker, in particular, has already taken advance steps to prepare for U.S. regulation, beginning with cooperating when forced out of U.S. operation in the first place. Party Poker was at one time forced to pay a fine of $105 million to the United States, and did so without incident, which would seem to keep the company viable for a return to the States should poker be regulated. And there are significant rumours and indications that Party Poker is preparing for a renewed U.S. launch, so as to be ready the moment regulation occurs. Regarding the actual likelihood of regulation, though there have been rumours and indications for quite some time, there does actually seem to be some momentum in the U.S. government toward at least a partial solution for online gambling companies.

In fact, the U.S. Senate has an active, bipartisan group working toward the regulation and legalization of online poker. Though the bill being discussed is very specific about allowing only poker – rather than all online gambling and casino communities – it would represent significant progress, and would still allow the biggest gaming companies to launch Internet poker effectively in the United States. The idea behind only legalizing poker, rather than other casino games as well, is that in theory poker involves skill, as well as chance, and is therefore easier to monitor with regard to potential cheating or scams.

Regardless, if poker were to be regulated, it is a virtual certainty that the top gaming companies would quickly bring poker-only gaming platforms to the United States. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has seemed optimistic about the government’s prospects of passing regulation law, but has stated that more support from Republican senators will be necessary to get the job done. However, Republican senators Jon Kyl and Dean Heller do appear to be working actively to persuade their Republican colleagues in the Senate to support the bill. It may take time, but it appears that the framework for the deal is in place, and there is a clear bipartisan effort to push it through, indicating that U.S. regulation is indeed on the way.

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